How Burdensome Are Your Regrets?

By Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D .

In answering each of the following statements, think about the events of your life. Circle the answer that best describes how you feel about them. Check your score at the end, then read “10 Ways to Live Free of Regret.”

True  False 1. I did something in the past that still makes me cringe, and I feel ashamed whenever I think about it, which is more often than I would like.
True  False 2. At one point in my life, my failure to say or do something had hurtful consequences that continue to bother me.
True  False 3. I lost a great opportunity by not acting on it when I had the chance, and I have still not come to terms with that failure.
True  False 4. I can’t stop feeling hurt by the way someone treated me.
True  False 5. Although I try not to, I envy one or more people for their looks, money or accomplishments to the extent that it’s a problem for me.
True  False 6. I continue to feel sad, angry or victimized as the result of a past occurrence, even though it was beyond my control at the time.
True  False 7. I feel a gnawing sense of longing and regret because I’m getting older, and it often interferes with my enjoyment of the present.
True  False 8. There is one person I will never, ever forgive.
True  False 9. There are painful memories I’d rather not revisit, but that still seem to affect me in a negative way.
True  False 10. There are things I did in my past that make me feel like a bad person.
True  False 11. I am my own worst critic, and I deeply regret that I have not achieved what I’m capable of doing.
True  False 12. It’s too late to go back and repair what was done in the past.
True  False 13. I can’t forgive myself, because the person I hurt will never forgive me.
True  False 14. I know I wasn’t totally innocent, but I don’t feel like I should be the one to apologize because I’m the one who got hurt the most.
True  False 15. There are ghosts in my past that I cannot shake.
Total Number of "True":


Add up the number of True answers you circled. If you circled:

11–15 You are plagued by more pain, grief, blame, and discontent from your regrets than you'd probably like to admit. You are not alone. Many of us live with burdensome regrets that may be interfering with the enjoyment of our day-to-day life, restricting our future possibilities, and hampering our ability to experience joy. The good news is that once you learn to come to terms with these regrets and release them, you will experience a profound sense of relief and freedom.

4–10 Like most of us, you have shame-producing skeletons in your closet, and people, including yourself, whom you may not have forgiven. You are ready to see the lessons and gifts each of these burdensome regrets holds for you, and to take the action steps necessary to let them go. Once you do so, your regrets will serve as guides in your present and mentors for your future, leading you to happiness and away from torment.

1–3 You are a person who has learned to forgive yourself, forgive others, and move on with your life for the most part. Yet, a few nagging regrets remain. You will be amazed at how light, optimistic and joyful you will feel when you let go of the last, unresolved regrets that weigh upon your intellect, emotions and spirit. Once these regrets are gone, “should have,” “if only,” “could have,” and “why me?” thoughts will no longer have the power to hurt you—now or in the future.

0 Congratulations! You are a remarkable person who has let go of your regrets to live richly and fully in the present .

“10 Ways to Live Free of Regret:”

  • Apply the lessons and gifts of your regrets.
  • Accept responsibility; make amends.
  • Stay grateful.
  • Practice humility.
  • Serve others.
  • Forgive yourself and others.
  • Accept others; accept life.
  • Reject old regrets.
  • Let go of new regrets.
  • Live resolutely in the present.

© No Regrets: A Ten-Step Program for Living in the Present and Leaving the Past Behind , by Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D. (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). Used with permission.

Click here for a related article by Dr. Beazley, “Let Go of Past Regrets to Achieve Success.”

Want to learn more? Consider these AMA seminars:

Author Bio: Hamilton Beazley, Ph.D. is the author of the new book, No Regrets: A Ten-Step Program for Living in the Present and Leaving the Past Behind (John Wiley & Sons, Jan. 2004). Dr. Beazley has appeared on national television and has spoken before both houses of Congress as an expert on addiction recovery. He is the former president of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and a former associate professor in the department of psychology at George Washington University. He is currently scholar-in-residence at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas. For additional information about his book, visit

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